THE STRATEGIES TO ENHANCE TEACHING AND LEARNING OF GEOGRAPHY IN SECONDARY SCHOOOL
1.1 Background to the Study
The Nigerian policy on education has made provisions to make education of the citizenry both functional and relevant with a view to ensuring all round development. Specific provisions have also been made for different levels of education system so as to ensure effective curriculum delivery in schools. For the benefits of all citizens, the country ‘s educational goals shall be clearly set out in terms of their relevance to the needs of the individual and those of the society, in consonance with the realities of the environment and the modern world (Federal Republic of Nigeria, (FRN, 2004). Orji and Uka (2012), argued that in order to actualize this in any society, there is the need of attending to certain unavoidable variables such as teaching materials, methods adopted, curriculum, teacher as well as students‘interest. With particular reference to secondary education in Nigeria, various subjects have been included in the curriculum to enable pupils acquire knowledge and skills. Certain subjects are categorized as core while others are either vocational electives or nonvocational electives. Geography is found under both core and non-vocational electives categories. This shows the importance of Geography in achieving the national educational goals whose significance cannot be overemphasized.
However, teaching of Geography as science or social science subject in senior secondary schools is not without some problems. Poor academic performance of students in all science subjects and Geography in particular has been documented by many researchers. This has also been corroborated by high failure in public examinations in the country such as the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO).
Studies have shown decline in students performance in sciences … and this has been attributed to the fact that strategies used in our classrooms are not very effective (Akinniyi, Olaleye & Adewumi, 2008). Students‘ academic performance is being used as one of the predictors of overall quality of education system. To this end, Effandi and Iksan (2007), stated that the quality of education that teachers provide to students is dependent upon what the teachers do in the classrooms. Similarly, Awoyemi cited in Linda (2000), attributed the poor performance of students to the low quality of teachers.Alimi and Balogun (2010), showed positive relationship between teachers‘ attributes and students‘ academic performance in Geography.
The foregoing underscores the importance of teacher pedagogical effectiveness in achieving quality education and as correlate of students‘ academic performance. Persistent use of traditional teaching methods such as the lecture in Geography classrooms has been the underlying factor for student‘s poor performance in the subject. Clar and Wareham (2003), observed that Geography has traditionally used a wide range of teaching methods than many other subjects and the range has tended to expand further over the last few years. As a synthesis of other subjects, Geography has a number of recurring themes which distinguish it from other disciplines and help to unite the human and physical aspects of the subject. The nature of this subject calls for paradigm shift from teacher-centred to learner-centred instructional strategies that permit active involvement of learners in the learning process such that a more meaningful learning can be achieved.
The use of cooperative learning strategy (CLS) as an effective instructional strategy for improving the academic performance of students in a wide range of subject areas has been well-documented by several researchers. Johnson, Johnson and Stanne (2000), opined that:
Modern cooperative learning a widely used instructional procedure in preschool through graduate school levels, in all subject areas, in all aspects of instruction and learning, in non traditional as well as traditional learning situations, and even in after school and non-school educational programs (p.2)
Cooperative learning has been called one of the biggest educational innovations of our time and represents research-based best practice for instruction (Ellis & Fouts, 1997). In cooperative learning situations there is positive interdependence among students‘ goal attainment, students perceive that they can reach their learning goals if and only if the other students in the learning group also reach their goals (Deutsch, 1962 in Johnson & Johnson, 1987). Cooperative learning or group learning strategy is an instructional strategy which organizes students into small groups so that they can work together to maximize their own and each other‘s learning (Teaching Methods, 2003).
Researches conducted so far on effects of CLS on students‘ learning outcomes have shown significant correlation between CLS and students‘ academic performance. Researchers such as Rahvard (2010); Slavin (2007) and Johnson and Johnson, (1987) have shown the effectiveness of CLS in promoting students‘ learning and academic performance, increasing their retention and enhancing their satisfaction with their learning experiences. It is against this background that the researcher intends to determine the effect of CLS on Geography students‘ academic performance in senior secondary schools in the study area, Sokoto State
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The general public outcry against poor academic performance of Senior Secondary
School students in Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) conducted by West African Examination Council (WAEC), National Examination Council (NECO) and similar bodies is illustrative of low quality education and associated teachers‘ ineffectiveness at this level. Secondary school teachers have been held responsible for growing decline in students‘ academic performance since the quality of education depends on the teachers as reflected in the performance of their duties. The results of learning are always influenced by the nature and quality of the methods and techniques employed for the teaching and learning of a particular content, subject mater or learning experience (Mangal, 2009). Teachers‘ ineffectiveness in classroom interaction with students could be responsible for the observed poor performance of students and the widely acclaimed fallen standard of education in Nigeria (Akiri & Ugborugbo, 2009).Eduwen (1993), also discussed problems in teaching of Geography which included shortage of professionally trained teachers and subject wide coverage. Useni, Okolo and Yakubu (2012), attributed the problem of poor performance of secondary school students to the quality of teaching, environment and attitudes of students towards the subject. Students‘ performance in Geography is generally poor when compared with their performance in other subjects. Teachers‘ persistent use of ineffective instructional methods such as the lecture method has been responsible for students‘ poor academic performance in Geography. In this regard, Tshibalo (2003), attributed the poor performance of Geography students to the use of ineffective traditional teaching methods such as the lecture method. There is the need for the teachers to shift from their present traditional, teacher-centred to modern and student-centred strategies that enhance academic performance of students.
The search for more improved and modern method of teaching Geography has
become part of the professional concern of Geography teachers if they are to succeed in their duties. There is need for the Geography teachers to try other teaching strategies that are found effective in other subjects. A variety of instructional strategies have been proposed and used in many different subject areas with positive effects on students‘ academic performance. As one of such strategies, cooperative learning strategy provides many learning opportunities that do not occur in the typical traditional classroom and its potential in science, mathematics and many different areas. For these reasons, geography teachers need to try cooperative learning strategy in their classes in order to improve their instructions and the students‘ academic performance. In the words of Van Wyk (2011) excellent and effective teaching demands a host of devices, techniques and strategies not only to achieve cross critical outcomes, but because variety, itself, is a desirable. To enhance senior secondary school students‘ performance in Geography therefore, pedagogical competence of Geography teachers is highly imperative. In view of the fore going, a more improved and modern strategy of teaching Geography has been proposed for use at upper secondary school level- the cooperative learning strategy. In cooperative learning strategy, the emphasis is on getting students to work together on a given problem in small heterogeneous groups of 2 to 5 students in order to achieve a common goal. A Geography teacher using this strategy to teach an aspect of map reading can make use of limited topographical maps at his disposal to maximize learning among students even in large size class since our secondary schools are characterized by limited resources and large size classes.
Specifically therefore, the researcher seeks to determine the effects of CLS on Geography students‘ academic performance in senior secondary schools in sokoto state. This is with the view to providing information on the strategy and how Geography teachers can take advantage of it in teaching-learning process.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The main objectives of the study are to:
- Determine the difference between the academic performances of students taught Geography using Cooperative Learning Strategy and those taught with traditional lecture method in Sokoto State.
- Examine the extent to which cooperative Learning Strategy affects the academic performance of students in Geography in senior secondary schools in Sokoto state as a result of gender differences in Sokoto state.
- Find out the difference between the academic performance of urban and rural students taught Geography with Cooperative Learning Strategy in senior secondary schools in Sokoto state.
- Find out the differences in students‘ practical geography performance after exposure to Cooperative Learning Strategy in Geography in sokoto state.
- Investigate the effect of Cooperative Learning Strategy on physical geography performance of students before and after exposure to Cooperative Learning Strategy in Sokoto state.
- Ascertain the effect of cooperative learning strategy on human geography performance of students before and after exposure to cooperative leaning strategy in
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions were formulated to direct this study.
- What is the difference between the academic performance of students taught Geography using Cooperative Learning Strategy and those taught with traditional lecture method in Sokoto State?
- To what extent does Cooperative Learning Strategy affect the academic performance of male and female students in Geography in sokoto state?
- What is the difference between the academic performance of urban and rural students taught Geography with Cooperative Learning Strategy in Sokoto State?
- What is the difference in students‘ performance in practical geography before and after exposure to Cooperative Learning Strategy in Geography in sokoto state?
- To what extent does Cooperative Learning Strategy enhance geography students‘ performance in physical geography in senior secondary schools in Sokoto state?
- What is the effect of Cooperative Learning Strategy on the performance of students in human geography before and after exposure to Cooperative Learning Strategy?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following null hypotheses were postulated to be tested:
Ho1: There is no significant difference between the academic performance of students taught Geography using Cooperative Learning Strategy and those taught using traditional lecture method in senior secondary schools in sokoto state.
Ho2: There is no significant difference between the academic performances of male and female students taught Geography using Cooperative Learning Strategy in senior secondary schools in sokoto state.
Ho3: There is no significant difference between the academic performance of urban and rural students taught Geography with Cooperative Learning Strategy in senior secondary schools in sokoto state.
Ho4: There is no significant difference in students‘ performance in practical geography before and after exposure to Cooperative Learning Strategy.
Ho5: There is no significant difference in students‘ performance in physical geography before and after exposure to Cooperative Learning Strategy in Geography in Sokoto State.
Ho6: There is no significant effect of cooperative learning strategy on geography students‘ performance in human geography before and after exposure to Cooperative Learning
Strategy in Geography in Sokoto State.
1.6 Basic Assumptions
With respect to this study, the following assumptions are made:
- Students taught geography with cooperative learning strategy are likely to achieve higher than peers taught with traditional teaching methods.
- Geography teachers at secondary school level can use cooperative learning strategy to develop and promote self confidence of their students who are passive in terms of participation in classroom activities thereby promoting students‘ learning and academic performance.
- Cooperative learning strategy should result in positive effects on students‘ ability to work out tasks on map reading.
- The effects of cooperative learning strategy on the academic performance of geography students differ from one aspect of geography to another
1.7Significance of the Study
This study, titled effects of CLS on Geography students‘ academic performance in senior secondary schools in the sokoto state, will be of enormous benefits to an array of stakeholders in education. It will be helpful to Geography teachers, students, school administrators as well as curriculum developers. Information from this study will help Geography teachers improve their teaching effectiveness through the use of cooperative learning as effective instructional strategy in their field. For the Geography students, the benefits derivable from the study are numerous. It is hoped that the use of cooperative learning strategy for teaching Geography will enhance the academic performance of students, retention of learned materials and encourage positive interaction among them.
For curriculum developers and school administrators, findings from this study will provide them with insights into the effectiveness of CLS in achieving maximum result with limited curriculum instructional materials or resources and therefore consolidate it in their future policy efforts. CLS has a wide range of applicability in different levels and subject areas, the study will expose this fact to educators in different fields of study, academic training and research activities including workshops and seminars which, in turn, results in improving the teaching-learning process.
1.8 Scope of the Study
There are many teaching and learning methods. Cooperative learning has different dimensions (Learning Together, Group Investigation, Jigsaw, Structured Groups, Unstructured Groups etc.). This study is delimited to the consideration of the effect of cooperative learning strategy on Geography students‘ performance in secondary schools in sokoto state.